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"Frida Kahlo: Portraits of an Icon"
These preeminent photographers produced remarkable portraits of refined artistry and technique that exceed the boundaries documentary photography. Nonetheless, some of the most revealing photographs in the exhibition were taken by her close friends and family, such as Guillermo Kahlo and Lucienne Block, who were also accomplished photographers. Overall, these portraits chronicle Kahlo from the onset of her artistic career until her death and portray her various roles as painter, patient, wife, daughter, lover, and friend. Many of the photographs offer an intimate glimpse of private moments in her bedroom, hospital room, studio, and garden. Other images reveal the artist’s carefully constructed self-image. Often dressed in pre-Columbian attire, Kahlo demonstrates a deep interest in her Mexican heritage while discretely concealing her physically deformed leg beneath her long flowing skirts.
Highlights of the exhibition include Bernard Silberstein’s Frida painting The Wounded Table, (1940), which juxtaposes the artist with one of her works in progress. Viewed as a whole, the featured images provide extraordinary insight on an artist who described herself as “la gran ocultadora” or the great concealer.
Frida Kahlo's art was on exibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from Saturday,
September 27, 2007
In June we wrote about the opening of a new museum exhibition in Mexico City honoring the centenary of the birth of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Now it’s her husband’s turn. Museums and arts groups around the world are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the death of Diego Rivera, one of the most influential mural painters of the 20th century.
At least six exhibits focused on Rivera are scheduled to open in Mexico alone. The first, in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, opens September 28. A second will open in Guanajuato, the artist’s birthplace, on October 3 as part of the celebrated annual International Cervantes Festival. Others will run in Mexico City between October and December.
Additional exhibits are expected throughout Latin America, while in Lyon, France, a plaza will be named in Rivera's honor and reproductions of his murals installed in December.
Guadalupe Rivera, the artist’s daughter, has indicated in interviews that the exhibits in Mexico are well planned, as each will cover a different aspect of her father’s professional life. Rivera studied art in Europe, but ultimately returned to his Mexican roots, developing a style that celebrated Mexico’s indigenous culture.
Rivera and Kahlo, his second wife, are remembered today as much for their political activism as they are for their artistic output. They were leading intellectuals in Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s, hosting gatherings attended by writers, artists, and politicians.
Rivera founded the Mexican Communist party, and both he and Kahlo were active in supporting their political causes. Rivera, reflecting his political leanings, often celebrated the worker in his murals. (A major mural he painted for Rockefeller Center in New York City was destroyed for containing a portrait of Lenin. Ironically, Rivera later was expelled from the Communist Party for persuading the Mexican government to grant asylum to Leon Trotsky, Stalin’s unsuccessful rival for power.)
Though an extremely influential artist in his day and considered one of the founders of Mexican modern art, Rivera today is somewhat overshadowed by his wife. Kahlo’s work seems to strike more of a chord among modern viewers. This may be due in part to the medium—Rivera painted large public murals, as opposed to Kahlo’s intimate paintings—as well as to the subject matter—Rivera’s art often is politically based, as opposed to Kahlo’s more emotional, universal themes.
The new Rivera exhibits, coming on the heels of the wildly successful Kahlo exhibit (which broke attendance records) make 2007 a banner year for Mexican art.
2007: the centenary of Frida's birth
"Frida Kahlo" a big exhibition in major American museums
Kahlo", a show of approximately 50 paintings, will debut at the
Walker Art Center this October to travel then to the Philadelphia Museum
of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Frida Kahlo"
is organized by Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in association with the
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Guest curated by Hayden Herrera with
co-curator Elizabeth Carpenter of Walker Art Center
"Frida Kahlo: Public Image, Private Life. A Selection of Photographs and Letters", on view at The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Celebrating Kahlo’s 100th birthday, the exhibition includes the museum’s
prized possession, Kahlo’s Self-portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky,
23 photographs of Kahlo by various artists, 10 of Kahlo’s unpublished
personal letters to family and friends from The Nelleke Nix and Marianne
Huber Collection: The Frida Kahlo Papers and 12 never-before-seen photographs
of Kahlo’s private bathroom at the Casa Azul. Among the photographs
will be a new collection of images by Mexican photographer Graciela
Iturbide of Kahlo’s private bathroom at the Casa Azul and its contents,
which were sealed until fifty years after her death. The combination
of these materials will provide a stimulating context for exploring
the relationship between Frida’s colorful, mexicanista image and the
difficult realities of her personal life.
Beyond the Myth, Art Endures
The largest retrospective ever of Frida Kahlo’s work appears
at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and commemorates the 100th anniversary
of her birth.
MEXICO CITY, July 6 — Frida Kahlo spun her own life into a myth. She
was so good at it that her art almost got lost along the way.
Her persona, fashioned over almost three decades of self-portraits, fused physical suffering and emotional isolation. Her frank depiction of a woman’s psychic pain made her a feminist icon. She became a Chicana heroine and an unintended purveyor of Mexican kitsch. She is an emblem of confessional painting at a time when nothing is intimate anymore.
But this year, as Mexico celebrates the centenary of her birth, the largest retrospective ever of her work attempts to look beyond what Mexicans call Fridamania. The result is a rich view of her art and her life, one that broadens the perspective on her career beyond the narrow, cultish view that has at times threatened to obscure her work. For the majority who know Kahlo’s painting only from the movie version of her life or the unmistakable power of her face on a T-shirt, the exhibition that opened here last month at the Palacio de Bellas Artes may come as a surprise.
“She was completely instinctual,” said Salomon Grimberg, one of the show’s five curators. “She put into art things nobody had dared to put into art before. She was able to access her internal reality and shape it in such a way that it grabs the viewer.”
“Her work is so flashy and so immediate that most people don’t stop to look at her work as a painter,” he added. “They just get caught up in the image. Finally, after 30 years, the work is being reappraised.”
Among the 354 pieces on display are some of Kahlo’s most famous self-portraits, but through lesser-known self-portraits, still lifes, portraits, drawings and watercolors, she emerges as an artist who gathered multiple influences into her own language.
Her first self-portrait, in a velvet dress, was painted at 19 for a faithless boyfriend and already shows the unflinching gaze that marked the later paintings. But here she is graceful, almost ethereal, quite different from the confrontational presence she was to become.
A tender portrait of her husband, the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, reveals an unexpected naturalism. Portraits of children show Kahlo working in different styles: a detailed painterliness with her baby niece, splashes of color for what appears to be a servant girl.
There is great humor in a frankly sexual still life entitled “The Bride Who Is Frightened to See Life Open” for which Kahlo posed a doll in a white dress at the edge of a table of fruit, the papaya and watermelon sliced open.
Among the least-known works are her drawings and watercolors. A delicate 1930 drawing of a young woman, Ady Weber, shows a draftsmanship that few have attributed to Kahlo. There is a watercolor of Central Park and later fantastic drawings from the 1940s.
The show, which runs through Aug. 19, also includes many photographic portraits of Kahlo, along with photos of her family and the Mexico City neighborhood of Coyoacán, where she was born and died, and where her home, the Casa Azul, now houses the Museo Frida Kahlo. Some of her letters are on display, and so too is memorabilia recalling the Mexican Revolution of her childhood and the communism she embraced as an adult. The whole gives a juxtaposition of her intensely domestic existence — a house full of plants, pets, famous writers and painters — and the peculiarly violent history of her times.
“We wanted to present an integral Frida through all her mediums of expression,” said Roxana Velásquez Martínez del Campo, the director of the Bellas Artes museum and another of the show’s curators. “Frida is a woman in constant expression.”
But the drama of her tumultuous emotional life and her physical pain made her work uneven, Ms. Velásquez said: “On occasion she is a great painter.”
During her lifetime, Kahlo won only limited acclaim, dwarfed by Rivera’s heroic reputation. She exhibited in New York and Paris, but the only solo show of her work in Mexico took place in 1953, a year before she died. Her reputation here too has grown, tinged with pride at the attention she has brought to Mexico.
In addition to the show at Bellas Artes, an exhibition of newly cataloged drawings, photographs, letters, pre-Hispanic codices and her famous Mexican dresses is on display at the museum in Coyoacan. They are some of the 22,000 items that were tucked away in trunks, wardrobes and bathrooms in the house and sealed until after the death of a Rivera patron.
Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, to a Mexican mother and a German immigrant father who was a well-known architectural and portrait photographer.
She contracted polio as a child, which left her with a withered leg. At 18, a tram accident injured her spine and pelvis and confined her to a plaster cast for months, then convalescence for three years. One of the surprises discovered in the trunks at her house is a photograph of a model of the accident, using a crude doll and a toy bus on a straw mat.
The rest of her life was marked by enormous physical pain and repeated operations. She married Rivera in 1929 and the pair left for the United States the following year, where he had commissions to paint murals in San Francisco, Detroit and New York. In America, Kahlo found early collectors, including the actor Edward G. Robinson. Rivera encouraged and shaped his wife's painting. He was also constantly unfaithful, having affairs with, among others, Kahlo's sister. Kahlo responded by having affairs with both women and men, including Leon Trotsky. She would say that she had suffered two accidents, the tram and Diego -- and that he was the worse.
''She created a body of work which is imbued with a sense of abandonment,'' said Mr. Grimberg, who compiled the catalogue raisonne of her work. ''She shaped and reshaped her life over and over again so she would not be abandoned, she would not be rejected.''
Her painting repeatedly refers to the pain of her attachment to Rivera. Among the most famous of those exhibited here is ''The Two Fridas,'' from 1939, about the time the couple briefly divorced. On the left, Frida is dressed as a bride, her heart open and a cut artery dripping blood onto the dress. On the right, the everyday Frida is strong, her heart is healthy and she holds a cameo of Rivera as a child, a symbol that her union with him is far deeper than that of a marriage.
As Kahlo grew older, her health deteriorated rapidly and she became increasingly addicted to painkillers. The photographs of her in her final years reveal her utter exhaustion. But even then, she was clearly intensely aware of her image. ''The collection of photos that were taken of her is another of her masterpieces,'' said Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, a photography specialist who has cataloged the photos found at her house.
Kahlo died at 47 after her leg was amputated below the knee. Tucked away in the retrospective is an anonymous newspaper photograph of her state funeral. Rivera is there, his sadness evident. The funeral took place in Bellas Artes -- the same place the crowds are trooping through to revisit her work now.
Among the events celebrating Frida Kahlo is a retrospective at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City that continues through Aug. 19, and an exhibition at Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan that runs to Sept. 30.
Artist Frida Kahlo's clothes offer intimate look at her tortured, flamboyant life
MEXICO CITY -- The trunk, discovered in the back of an old wardrobe that had been forgotten in an unused bathroom, was like stepping into the past.
Next summer, the embroidered and sometimes paint-smeared pieces will be put on display at Kahlo's family home-turned-museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the painter's birth. The exhibit will offer the public a new glimpse into Kahlo's flamboyant and tortured life.
The clothes were a window on Kahlo's life. The curators of her museum were struck not only by the actual garments, but by the fact that they still smelled of Kahlo. "There is still a trace of that very particular odor," said Magdalena Rosen Zweig, who helped restore the clothing. "It's not mildew or mothballs, but the smell of a person, cigarettes, perfume. It's a very particular smell, something that makes the clothing come alive. It's something that helps you understand a person.” Some of the skirts were stained by Kahlo's oil paint, and one had a small, scorched hole from a cigarette."We respected that during the restoration process ... because it is part of history," Rosen Zweig said in an interview.
The wife of muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo is known as much for her outspoken and sometimes outrageous style as for her intensely personal paintings. She survived a horrible bus crash and polio as a child, was openly bisexual and had an affair with Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Her tumultuous life has inspired several plays and films, including the 2002 movie "Frida," starring Salma Hayek. Kahlo was known in part for her fashion leadership, and was featured on the cover of Vogue's French edition. While most women were turning toward the simple, elegant dresses, Kahlo was wearing long, full skirts that borrowed heavily from Mexico's traditional Indian dress. She often had her hair in braids, and refused to remove a mustache or trim her unibrow, both of which she exaggerated in her signature self-portraits. The trunk of clothes was found in 2004 during a renovation of her family's home, where she died in 1954 after a life of nearly constant pain and dozens of surgeries for broken bones she suffered in the bus accident. Inside were dresses, tablecloths and a letter from Rivera.
PHOTO: Museum curator Magdalena Rosen Zweig rolls up a fabric used by the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo while taking inventory of a recent discovery in the kitchen at the FridaKahloMuseum in Mexico City, Monday, Sept. 25. A trunk recently discovered in the floor of an unused bathroom at the museum revealed hundreds of Kahlo's colorful skirts and blouses, many still infused with the late artist's perfume and cigarette smoke.
May 25th, 2006 Kahlo Portrait Sells for $5.62 Million, a Record for Latin Art
The small oil on metal panel, depicting the Mexican artist
as an earth goddess with sinuous vines spilling from her stomach, sold
to an unidentified telephone bidder. The painting also becomes the most
expensive Kahlo ever sold at auction. The previous Latin American record
was held by a 1929 Kahlo ``Self-Portrait'' that fetched $5.1 million
at Sotheby's New York in 2000. Prices include buyer's commission. ``Roots''
was featured in the 2002 film ``Frida'' and has appeared in dozens of
"Mexican Modern: Masters of the 20th Century", an exhibit of paintings and photographs from the golden age of Mexican Modernism (1920 to 1960) will open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe on May 28 and run through Sept. 3. The show will feature works by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozoco, Rufino Tamayo, Tina Modotti and Manuel Alvarez Bravo. The exhibit is being assembled by staff at the Collection Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City and will be shown at no other venues. The Museum of New Mexico Press will publish an exhibition catalog with essays by Luis-Martin Lozano, and David Craven, professor of art history at The University of New Mexico.
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